Jainworld
Jain World
Sub-Categories of Passions

Jivaraja Jaina Granthmala, No. 20

General Editorial
Preface to The First Edition
Preface to The Second Edition
Synoptic Philosophy
  Approach to Reality
  The Jaina Theory of the Soul
  Critique of Knowledge
  The Doctrine of Karma in Jaina Philosophy
  The Pathway to Perfection
  In this Our Life
  Men and Gods

APPROACH TO REALITY

 

 

Recent writers on Indian philosophy have re-iterated the entire charge made by gamkara and Ramanuja and have shown that it is a kind of eclecticism, 'a putting together of several partial truths' without a proper synthesis. It is therefore characterized as a sort of compromise philosophy.  The half-hearted attempt of Jaina enquiry as expressed in.  Saptabhangi stops at giving partial truth together and does not attempt to overcome the opposition implied in them by a proper synthesis.

But if we mean by definiteness unconditional and absolute assertion, then the 'indefiniteness' of the doctrine is a logical necessity. As Radhakrishnanpoints out [36] the criticism of the Saptabhangi doctrine as of no practical utility is an expression of personal opinion and as such need not be considered.

Samkara also says that the Saptabhangi doctrine is inconsistent with the other views of Jaina philosophy. The assertion of existence, non-existence and indescribability are alike applicable to the doctrine of the soul and the categories. Similarly, the final release may exist and not exist and may be indescribable.[37]

The dialectic of Syadvada is inconsistent with the Jaina philosophy. It could not have sprung from the same teacher and the same philosophical background. "As a mere 'anaikantika' (sic) theory of predication, the Syadvada must return upon itself and end in doubting

the doubter himself.[38] Prof. Radhakrishnanafter mentioning the strong points of Syadvada, says "Yet in our opinion the Jaina logic leads to a monistic idealism (by which he means 'the hypothesis of the absolute') and so far as the Jainas shrink from it they are untrue to their own logic".[39] But in the Saptabhangi tarangini we read a counter argument: If the final release and heavenly bliss are eternal and existing, where is the chance for samasara and the attempt to obtain moksa? If the other alternative is the only truth, what is the purpose of preaching such an ideal which is impossible to attain? Radhakrishnanpoints out that the Saptabhangi doctrine is not in consistent with the other views of the Jainas. It is a logical corollary of the Anekantavada. All that the Jainas say is that everything is of a complex nature and the real reconciles the difference in itself. Attributes which are contradictors in the abstract co-exist in the world of experience.

Ramanuja also pointed out that contradictory attributes such as existence and non-existence cannot at the same time belong to one thing any more than light and darkness. However, he seems to accept the distinction between dravya and paryfiya, substance and modes. He also sees that the substance has permanence; paryaya implied change.

But the predications give severally partial truths. The truths presented by them are alternative truths from different points of view; and the seven predications would present a complete comprehensive picture of reality. It is neither scepticism nor agnosticism, for each individual truth is valid. It is supplemented and harmonized by the other predication into a single comprehensive picture of reality, as we get a harmony in orchestra by the combination of different notes.

With all their criticisms, BELVALKAR makes Syadvada a most searching characteristic. Radhakrishnan observes "Samkara and Ramanuja criticized the Saptabhangi view on the ground of the impossibility of contradictory attributes co-existing in the same thing".  After quoting the relevant passage from Ramanuja he proceeds to say: "The Jainas admit that a thing cannot have self-contradictory attributes at the same time and in the same sense. All that they say is that everything is of a complex nature, and reconciles differences in itself. Attributes which are contradictory in the abstract co-exist in life and experience. The tree is moving in that its branches are moving and it is not moving since it is fixed to its place in the ground." [40]

 VI. In Western thought, at the time of the Greeks, when there was intellectual confusion due to the conflicting theories presented by the different philosophers, several approaches to problems were possible. Parmenides had emphasized 'Being'; Heraclitus had talked of change; Empedocles and Anaxagoras had thought that the reality consists of a plurality of substances. The atomists left the intellectual confusion. It was difficult to reconcile these conflicting views. Protagoras escaped the problem and said, Homomensure. The Sophists left the wise to wrangle with them and the quarrel of the universe let be.

But the Jainas did not accept such an escapist attitude. They faced facts squarely and tried to find out what was common between the conflicting views of the philosophers. This was the Anekanta attitude of the Jainas.

The Jainas appeal to experience and say that a priori reasoning independent of experience is incompetent to yield insight into he nature of the real. The Jainas steer clear of conflicting views of reality. They make us aware of the fact that intellectual dogmatism is not healthy and a many sided approach to the problem will develop in us a sense of tolerance and respect for others. Intellectual Ahimsa is most necessary, especially in an age when conflicting ideologies are trying to claim the monopoly of truth for themselves and give rise to intolerance and hatred. We live in a world of fear, distrust. It is time we tried to understand each other in an atmosphere of give and take. We must find out what is common between us rather than emphasize the differences. The Anekanta view is not sceptism, because it is not founded on doubt and distrust ; it is not solipsism, because it is based on an objective determination of things; but it presents acatholic approach to the problems of life. Bertrand Russell has mentioned that truth or falsity refers to propositions and this is based on facts. An affirmative proposition corresponds to the objective facts : it is to be true.  Similarly, a negative proposition must have a corresponding objective fact if it is to be true. He mentions this as 'negative fact'. Thus we find that contradictory predications are not merely subjective, but they have an objective basis.

Thus we find that Anekantavada manifests itself as the most consistent form of realism in Indian Philosophy. It has allowed the principle of distinction to run its full course until reaches its logical terminus, the theory of minifoldness of reality and knowledge. It postulates the multiplicity of the ultimate reals constituting the cosmos.  The Anekanta view of reality permeates every aspect of life and experience.

Whitehead's theory of coherence comes nearer to Anekanta attitude of the Jainas. He elucidates his attitude to reality by presenting the complete problem of the metaphysics, of substance and of flux as a 'full expression of the union of two notions.' Substance expresses permanence and flux emphasizes impermanence and change. Reality is to be found in the synthesis of the two. he interprets the lines:

           'Abide with me;

            Fast falls the eventide'

by showing that the two lines cannot be torn apart in this way; and we find that a wavering balance between the two is a characteristic of the greater number of philosophers.[41] Whitehead shows that reality can be best understood by the integral view-point in which the ultimate postulates of per-manence and flux are harmoniously blended. Heraclitus emphasized the partial truth of change and flux. Perminedes

presented permanence and being as the reality. Reality is to be found in the blending with the two view points into a comprehensive whole.

For Whitehead, coherence would mean that the fundamental ideas presuppose each other. In isolation they are meaningless. It does not mean they are definable in terms of each other, though they are relevant to each other. 'No entity' can be conceived in complete abstraction from the system of the universe, and that it is the business of speculative philosophy to exhibit this truth. This character is its conherence'.[42]

He also says: 'The systematisation of knowledge cannot be conducted in watertight compartments. All general truths condition each other; and the limits of their application cannot be adequately defined apart from their correlation by yet wider generalities. [43]

This is the attitude of the Jainas also. The Jaina emphasis on the material and spiritual as a synthesis of opposites leads to a concrete universal involving unity in diversity.  It is comparable to Jasper's 'unfanatical absoluteness'.  Jainas in their theory of Anekanta illustrate a 'non-attach-ment of partial truths; and they have made creative use of -the contradictions by removing the sting out of them, Heideggar presents a similar point of view. [44]